A few weeks ago, putting together my personal ad (remind me to post it here), I got to thinking about the words we use to describe the shapes of our bodies, and how they end up saying more about us than we intended. On the dating site, I want to describe my body flatteringly but honestly, but in choosing one of the options given for body type, I’m also saying something about how I view myself.
On the dating site I use, my choices are: “ample,” “athletic,” “average,” “Rubenesque,” “a little extra padding” and “slim/petite.” I chose ample, because I like the way it conjures images of generosity and lusciousness. It means more than enough. It’s very positive. I hope it says both that I am fat and that I am not apologizing for it. On other sites, I’ve weighed the merits of “heavyset,” “big and beautiful,” “curvy” and “full-figured,” none of which resonates with how I feel about myself and my body.
“Big and beautiful,” in particular, doesn’t work for me. I can’t quite put my finger on why that is. I mean, sure, I don’t always think I’m beautiful, but it’s not the braggadocio that I object to… it’s the whole image that is conjured up by the description. When I think of “big and beautiful” or “BBW” (“big beautiful woman” – a very common description among plus-sized ladies on the dating scene) , I think of women who are more feminine than me, more extravagantly and provocatively dressed. Just google “BBW” to see what I mean.
“Fat,” too, is a new way of describing myself, and in using it I am saying to the world that I don’t accept its negative connotations. Calling myself fat is the same as calling myself tall (I’m 5’11”) or blue-eyed: just a description of my physicality, not a judgment on my character or even my attractiveness.
I understand, though, that not everyone sees it that way. If I were to describe myself as fat in some circles, the people around me would rush to my rescue – “No, you’re not fat!”, “Don’t say that about yourself!”. In others, eyes would shift awkwardly, wishing I hadn’t mentioned it. And I play along with other people who avoid the “f word,” describing them and others we encounter as “chubby,” “bigger,” or “plus-sized.”
I don’t really have a conclusion to come to here. I’ve just been musing on these things for a while now and thought I would get them down on paper before something else caught my attention. Anyone out there have any favorite – or least favorite – ways of describing themselves? Any other fat daters out there coping with some of these same questions?